Will, you are Head Chef at Seed Catering and Events, a Port Macquarie catering and events team. Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
At Seed we aim to deliver the highest quality food and service to any event, large or small, on the Mid North Coast. We provide fun, flavour, passion and professionalism from concept to completion.
Since our launch at the Tastings on Hastings in 2016, we have enjoyed a wide range of events … Beach-side weddings, canapés in the mountains, meals for musicians, sandwiches for corporates, degustation dinners for doctors. We have done a Japanese pop-up bar and CBD markets; the fun doesn’t stop and the possibilities are endless.
Coming up, we have an Oktoberfest event – German food, steins, beer maidens and a brass band. We have dinner with chef Poderick from Heston’s in Melbourne, as well as the wedding season and Christmas parties.
You have several philosophies that guide your business practice. One of these is to minimise your business’ carbon footprint. Can you tell us how you bring that to life in your day-to-day operations?
Danielle is better at this than me, and she constantly reminds us to look at what we do and how we can be more environmentally conscious. So we do the following in our business:
- Recycle in the kitchen. A lot of kitchens don’t, which is a bit sad.
- We predominantly buy locally grown vegetables, thanks to Kenny Little, which reduces travel emissions and keeps money locally.
- Danielle is an avid op-shopper. We purchase resourcefully and quite often re-purpose, rather than buy landfill. An example of this is we bought some old doors that were ready for the tip and recycled fence palings and turned them into tables using the skills of Joe and the fellows at the Men’s Shed.
- We watch our energy consumption, and we will share anything we have.
- I’m also currently reading a book about doing business for good, which describes ways of business that are environmentally and socially beneficial, whilst still profitable.
What is it that you love most about running your business?
I love the growth, the challenge, the continual learning. I like seeing the improvement, I like being part of a happy team working towards a goal. I like the people I meet … The places we go. I enjoy the push to do better and the progress as a result of focus. I enjoy the freedom to express yourself creatively, without someone telling you, “That’s not how we do it here, boy”.
What I think about a lot is what things do I love? And who do I love? And I try to do those things with those people.
What are some of the challenges you face running your business, and how do you manage to overcome them?
Finding the focus and drive, when no one is telling you what to do, or paying you to do it. It can take a long time to get what you see in your mind out and on to the dance floor, ha ha! Then I need to find the discipline to keep chipping away. To overcome this, I micro-step each day; I list five tasks and start with number one. Hopefully I can do all five.
Juggling cash flow; after spending savings on start-up expenses and still supporting the family. No matter how busy you are, make sure you have at least one confirmed stream of income in the building phase. Otherwise, you will sweat bullets waiting on invoices.
Finding a mentor can be difficult. I’ve been really lucky being part of the Edmund Barton Centre in Port Macquarie. It’s been a game changer having someone to help cut the red tape and talk about any issues, as well as keep you accountable for what you say you will do.
Composing myself when we have a monster work load and a strict deadline and trying not to flip out. I do this by doing one thing at a time, putting things in perspective and working hard.
What do you believe are the key ingredients to producing an awesome event?
Events are all preparation and lists; I think I love it, because it’s like sport. Event day is “game day”. Start time is “kick off”. If everyone is happy, you have had “a win”, and you only win if you and the team prepare. Here are the ingredients as we see them:
FUN. Whatever that is to you – food, music, games, intellectual discussion, beer and banter, education.
FLOW. Your event needs to flow from one stage to the next. Anticipate what’s going to happen – a good coordinator makes that effortless.
FOOD. The food needs to suit the customers and the style of event. Food can be entertainment, or it can be fuel.
FRIENDS/FAMILY. People always make the place.
What would your business advice be to someone who was looking to start up a small business in a regional area?
Decide and commit. Decide what it is you want to do, the one thing, and commit to doing whatever it takes to make it happen.
Environment and support. Keep company that bring out your qualities or make up for your shortfalls. This can bring about some tough decisions, but there will be many. A mentor has to be in there also. Grant Burtenshaw has helped us greatly.
The hustle. Also known as discipline, focus, and daily action.
Perspective. Keep everything in perspective, have fun, enjoy your health and your family. When things go wrong or the pressure is high, remember that most of these business problems are privileges compared to poverty, illness, sudden death and natural disasters.
Discipline. By far the single most important thing. Everything else you can find, learn or do, if you have the discipline. I still struggle with it every day. Like Bruce Lee said, he never beat an opponent in the ring; he won every day by having the discipline to beat himself.
And finally, if you could invite any three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?
I’m thinking all Australians. I love when Aussies take on the world at anything, especially business and sport. When we create something and become world beaters, that’s great.
Dick Smith. I think he is a pretty awesome car radio nerd. When he took on America in electronics, that was pretty bold. I think he has good Australian values and is environmentally aware and adventurous.
Janine Allis, from Boost Juice. She started a small juice bar and now has 500 in 13 countries amongst a series of other businesses and investments. Pretty solid for an Aussie battler!
Nigel Austin from Cotton On. He went from selling acid washed jackets out of his car boot in Geelong to having 1,300 stores in 19 countries and also doing some pretty handy philanthropy.
Funny story – I’ve already invited two of them to lunch ha ha.
Thanks for your time, Will.